Wizards win! Wizards win! Wizards win! Kinda odd to say it but sounds great.
"I'm just a reserve," John Wall told me jokingly as I asked him during warm ups if he was starting.
John actually came off the bench and provided a spark as he stayed in the game more than expected as Kirk Hinrich went out since the 2nd quarter as he went out with a left thigh contusion. On John Wall being 100%?, "I'm pretty close (on being 100%) the bone bruise it still agraviates time to time, I just wanna be out there and give the extra boost and being a leader, and also I don't have to score all the points, I can assist and lead the team."
There was no other points guard other than John Wall and Kirk Hinrich, so Josh Howard had to play the point guard duties. "He can play the 1 (point guard) through the 4 (power forward), he knows how to play the game, " says Nick Young about Josh's play of the point guard position.
This is the 6th straight game in a row that the Washington Wizards have a held an opponent under 100 points i a game. That's called playing defense ladies and gentleman. You can thank people like Josh Howard and John Wall. Mainly Josh Howard who is known for his defense.
"We are communicating better now, we starting to know one another's game, we trust one another," explained Blatche about the good defensive play.
Cartier Martin was hungry and showed it as he came in the 2nd half with 1:38 left in the 3rd quarter. He helped the Wiz Kids offensively as he went 4 of 6 shooting, 3 of 3 from 3-point land as he ended up with 10 points in the 13 minutes of play. Not too shabby considering the fact that he didn't the entire first half while finishing the game. "Whenever I am called on, I am ready to step up, I'm just ready to step up, I just play my role," said Cartier. Funny thing was, we the media, were waiting for him to dress up as we wanted to interview him, Cartier did not notice that we were waiting. He turned around, was surprised and said, "Oh man, I'm sorry, I'm not used to this."
With a new player, comes a new scheme for that player, and Rashard is that new guy who is learning this offense and started tonight at the small forward position. I asked Rashard about his first start in Washington, "It felt good, the most important thing is getting the win at the end of the night....I thought it was a total team effort."
With rumors swirling about Andray Blatche being traded, he came out with a good game as he finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. You would think that would bother a player or either motivated, and he came out motivated. Dray didn't want to talk about anything negative apparently as someone asked about losing, "Were not going to talk about losing no more, we won tonight, we are going to move on, go to Indiana, and start another winning streak."
A good night overall as Coach Flip Saunders was not here tonight as he was back home with his mother who is apparently who is sick and apparently in bad shape. Assistant Coach Randy Whittman, the former head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the head honcho for this game but repeated that he did not want to be in the head coaching seat. I guess he is happy being the man behind the man. Either way, he had a good debut because 6 players ended up with double figures and 2 of them had double-doubles with Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee (16 points and 10 rebounds)
Nick Young had a team high 25 points with 10 of 26 shooting, 3 of 9 shooting from 3 point land. He is continuing to be an asset to this team and a offensive threat. He did a good job on the defensive end. It seems like Josh Howard's attitude on defense has helped this young buck. Wizards will go on the road as they play the Indiana Pacers again but over at their home.
What I saw/heard
* Every time John Wall would score, the PA announcer Ralph would scream, "Jimmy Wall."
* Andray Blatche was wearing some nice looking Kobe's
* I'm sure you guys have heard of the Goodman League, which is played at Berryfarms (In SouthEast), well the guy who runs it, Miles Rawls, he's the same guy who sits near the court and is so loud, that you can hear him all over the stadium. Well he is never short of speaking his mind (he once called Joe Glorioso, Donnie Brascoe, and myself, Fabio) as he yelled at Sam Cassell during a timeout and said, "If you wanna change the game, put in a game changer (referring to Wall), " with Sam replying back, "for who?" and Miles, responding back, "Hinrich, Armsrong, anybody!" Moments later, John Wall entered the game.
* Miles Rawls wasn't finished, after the game was over, Rawls screamed, "No clubs this week!" to coaches Sam Cassell and Randy Whittman as they were leaving to the locker rooms.
Wizards/Pacers Game Highlights Courtesy of CSNWashington.com
Post Game Quotes Courtesy of the Washington Wizards PR Department
WIZARDS COACH RANDY WITTMAN
“As I told the guys afterwards, I’m really happy for them. Since we made the deal in bringing Rashard here, and Josh getting healthy, John getting healthy, we’ve taken some great strides. I don’t know what the games are. I don’t want to make a number but the last four, five, six games, whatever it is, of playing and competing against some really good teams, with a chance to win and just haven’t been able to close games out. We did the same thing. That’s what I tried to relay to those guys in the huddle. We’re here again and we got to believe that we’re going to close this out. I’m really happy for them.”
On finishing strong:
“It’s tough when you lose games like we did in Houston and like we have towards the end of games, you lose confidence. That’s all it is. Closing games out isn’t about x’s and o’s. It’s about confidence in yourself and belief in your teammates that we’re going to get the job done and they did.”
On the game:
“We had some weird things happen tonight. Kirk goes out at halftime. John goes out with cramps. I asked Josh to play the point. Cartier hadn’t played at all. He comes in and plays as big as you can play without playing leading up to that time. I was really proud of JaVale. He came in tonight and played Hibbert as good as we’ve seen leading up to this game watching tape on Hibbert, which he didn’t do last year. Those are the kind of things that add up to victory. To win 104-90, shooting 39 percent that says something to our defense.”
On playing Indiana again on Friday:
“It’s going to be tough. We go to Indianapolis and play the same team without a game in between for either one of us. We just got to go out and fulfill getting our first win on the road. We’ve set ourselves up on the road lately to be in a position to do it. I would think our guys would be confident going into Indianapolis after just beating them and trying to get that job done.”
On coaching due to Flip Saunders’ absence:
“Like I said before the game, I didn’t do anything different. We followed the same concepts. We didn’t reinvent the wheel here. I’m an extension of Flip. I don’t want to be here on Friday doing this, but if I have to we’ll do that. I didn’t do anything differently than what Flip does and we’ll keep it that way.”
WIZARDS FORWARD ANDRAY BLATCHE
On the win:
“I’m so proud of this team tonight. We finally were able to lock down in the fourth quarter and stayed focus on shutting them down.”
On Nick Young:
“I’ve never seen him get so many rebounds before but I’m proud of his effort. He is really starting to step up and come into his own on the court.”
On his play tonight:
“I needed this game tonight. The coaches pulled me aside before the game and told me to take my time, relax and just believe in myself. Those two jump shots that I hit early got my confidence back which hopefully I can carry over to the next game.”
On the team defense:
“We are communicating better on defense now. We are getting more comfortable with everyone’s game and trusting each other on the court.”
WIZARDS CENTER JAVALE MCGEE
On the defensive effort:
“I felt like our defensive play was very strong tonight. Everyone was playing hard on defense and communicating. I knew I had to front Roy (Hibbert) every time he tried to get in the paint tonight. The game plan was to stop him tonight and we did.”
On Friday’s game in Indiana:
“It’s going to be a tough game on Friday against Indiana. They know exactly what they did wrong tonight and will be able to correct it. They also know what worked well for us tonight and will be coming up with ways to stop us so we are going to have to come up with a new game plan so we can grab a win.”
WIZARDS GUARD NICK YOUNG
On his career-high nine rebounds:
“I thought I had 10 (rebounds) but I actually had nine. It could have been my first career double-double.”
On playing up tempo:
“It’s good to speed the game up sometimes so we don’t have to rely on John Wall every time.”
WIZARDS GUARD JOHN WALL
On how close he is to 100 percent healthy:
“I’m pretty close. The bone bruise still aggravates from time to time. I think just being out there on the court with my teammates, giving them extra boost and being a leader. I don’t have to score all the points. I can assist and lead the team. I think I did a great job of that tonight, finding the hot people at the right time.”
On what Rashard Lewis brings to the team:
“He brings a lot. Imagine when you have [Blatche] at the five and him at the four you have two people who can space the court and make the mid-range jump shot. When you run the high pick-and-roll with Rashard, he stretches it to the three-point line. He can make that shot or he can put it on the floor. You have a mismatch with him and [Blatche].”
PACERS HEAD COACH JIM O’BRIEN
On the Wizards:
“They’re a pretty athletic team. They really killed us on the glass. They were much quicker to the glass than we were. They’re a different basketball team. Their record doesn’t indicate how talented they are right now with (John) Wall and Josh Howard and (Rashard) Lewis. They’re a very talented team and they had too much for us tonight.”
On the Wizards energy:
“I think they’re extremely athletic. I think sometimes when you see athleticism versus guys that aren’t quite as athletic it looks like energy when, in fact, I thought our guys played with good energy, but (the Wizards) are just tremendously athletic.”
On the game:
“We held them to about 29% in the first half and they had 13 offensive rebounds. We should have had the lead at halftime. You can’t live on the perimeter the entire game. You need an inside/outside attack and we certainly did not have that tonight.”
PACERS FORWARD JOSH MCROBERTS
On the Wizards athleticism:
“(They are) probably one of the most athletic teams in the league. You saw them out there. They are a tough cover with all the athletes they have. Obviously, their big guys are athletic, long athletic, and Wall is one of the faster guys in the league. They are long, got quickness, athletic with bodies coming at you. They are all trying to get dunks every play. So you have to try and keep them off the boards.”
PACERS GUARD MIKE DUNLEAVY
On his mindset in the third quarter:
“I was just trying to get it going offensively. I have been struggling lately for our team. It’s still a work in process. The best I can do is just try and be efficient, knock down shots and get the ball moving.”
PACERS FORWARD DANNY GRANGER
On the Wizards defense:
“Honestly, they played good defense, give credit to them.”
On the Pacers offensive struggles:
“We’re not getting much of anything going offensively. Even the shots that we are making they are challenging shots. Especially tonight, they come down and they will break us down and they will shoot wide-open jump shots, and we don’t get many open looks. It’s been like that for the last four or five games. Our offense has been really poor right now. Even when we move, we are not cutting with a purpose, we are not moving with a purpose.”
Pictures are courtesy of Joe G. of WizardsExtreme.com, please visit the WizardsExtreme.com Flickr page for all the photos.